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Cash seized by CBP in Dulles airport for failure to report laid out on a table with Homeland Security logo

CBP Seizes $170k from 7 Travelers at Dulles

Dulles CBP does it again, and again.. and again, again, again, and again, and… again. That is, they sezied almost $170,000 in cash at Dulles airport for not reporting cash to Customs before leaving the country.

The 7 cash seizures by Customs range over a 2 week period, from July 13 to August 1. Travelers were Cash seized by Customs not reported and hidden in a bag at Dulles airporttaking cash to Belgium, Ghana, Turkey, Qatar, and Serbia. In each case, the travelers were stopped by CBP before boarding their plan and incorrectly reported the amount of money they were traveling, when asked.

Note that, if you’re boarding your flight and you haven’t already made the report, even if you make an accurate report when stopped, you’ve already committed the violation of failure to report. Also, in these cases, not filing the report is only one of the potential charges; additionally, the money could be seized for bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses, leading to a higher penalty. Worse yet, CBP can criminally indict any person for bulk cash smuggling, structuring, failing to report, and also making false statements to federal officials (i.e., reporting the wrong amount of money).

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $169,431 during seven recent violations of federal currency reporting laws at Washington Dulles International Airport.

It is not against the law to carry large amounts of currency in or out of the United States.  Arriving or departing travelers may carry as much currency as they wish.  However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing where they enter or leave the country.

Consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, as illustrated by the following cases, and subjected to potential criminal charges.

  • CBP officers seized $21,735 from a Cameroon woman and son boarding a flight to Belgium August 1.  The family reported $9,700.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $735 to the family for humanitarian purposes and released the family.
  • CBP officers seized $30,721 from a U.S. man boarding a flight to Ghana July 30.  The man verbally reported $9,000 then wrote down that he possessed $11,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in white envelopes in a carry-on bag. Officers released $721 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $26,177 from a U.S. family boarding a flight to Turkey July 29.  The family reported $21,000.  Officers discovered additional currency concealed inside children’s socks and in cell phone cases. Officers released $1,177 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $34,585 from a U.S. man and his Ghanaian wife boarding a flight to Ghana July 23.  The couple reported that they each possessed $10,000.  Officers discovered additional currency during an inspection.  Officers released $1,585 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $18,390 from a U.S. couple boarding a flight to Turkey July 21.  The couple reported $9,090.  Officers discovered additional currency in an envelope in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $20,645 from a U.S. man and his Jordanian wife boarding a flight to Qatar July 19.  The couple reported $14,020.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in the woman’s purse.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $17,178 from a Kosovo woman boarding a flight to Serbia July 13.  The woman reported $8,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in luggage and carry-on bags.  Officers released $1,578 to the woman for humanitarian purposes and released the family.

In each case, CBP officers read the federal reporting requirements to the travelers and solicited their understanding of the law.  Officers afforded the travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report all currency they possessed, both verbally and in writing.

“Customs and Border Protection outbound inspections protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity, or that fund transnational criminal organizations,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore.  “These currency seizures are a direct reflection of CBP’s continuing commitment to enforcing all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”

Dulles is one of the more aggressive ports when it comes to seizures, penalties, and criminal indictments. If you’ve had money seized by Customs, you should hire a lawyer.

$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

CBP at Dulles Airport seizes $50k Cash Leaving Country

Dulles CBP has made a few notable seizures recently. Dulles cash seizures always seem to hit the CBP news release cycle, and last week was no exception. CBP reported on the seizure of almost fifty-grand in cash from travelers leaving the United States, so here is the story:

CBP officers seized $29,698 from a Qatar-bound family Saturday.  Officers explained the currency reporting regulations to the family and the father reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $14,000.  The man presented an envelope that contained $10,000 and $4,000 in pocket cash.  CBP officers then asked if he possessed additional currency, to which the man presented an additional $5,698.  An examination of the wife’s purse resulted in the discovery of an additional $10,000.  CBP officers returned $698 to the family and released them to continue their journey.

CBP officers seized $18,900 from a Ghana-bound man Tuesday.  The traveler reported verbally and in writing that he possessed $12,000.  During an examination, CBP officers discovered the additional cash.  Officers returned $500 to the traveler for humanitarian purposes and released him to continue his journey.

The original story says that everyone was a U.S. citizen, and non were criminally charged. In my experience, Dulles will likely say that both of these cases involved bulk cash smuggling, and therefore, they are able to keep at least 50% of the money that was seized according to CBP’s mitigation guidelines.

This Dulles cash seizure should also serve as a reminder to everyone that a report is required even when LEAVING the country, not just upon arrival. If you look closely, you’ll probably see signs in the airport containing notices about the reporting requirement.

CBP Seizes $50k at Dulles Airport en route to Qatar

U.S. Customs seized nearly $50,000 at Dulles airport from two travellers attempting to leave the country for a failure to report. Both seizures involve people flying to Qatar and significantly under-reporting the amount of currency they possessed. You can read the full story HERE:

The first seizure occurred on July 17, during an outbound international flight enforcement operation. A U.S. citizen boarding a flight to Qatar reported to CBP officers that he possessed $5,000 and completed a financial reporting form stating that amount however; a total of $23,141 was discovered on his person and in his luggage. CBP officers seized the $23,141, returning $541 to the traveler for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

The second seizure occurred on July 19, during another outbound enforcement operation. A U.S. citizen boarding a flight to Qatar Customs Seizes $39k from Nicaraguan Travelerreported to CBP officers that she possessed $6,000 and completed a financial reporting form stating that amount however; numerous envelopes of U.S. and foreign currency were discovered in her carry-on luggage totaling $26,179 (U.S. equivalent). CBP officers seized the $26,179, returning $2,247 to the traveler for humanitarian relief, and advised her how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

“Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP area port director for the Port of Washington Dulles. “The travelers were given the opportunity to truthfully report their currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.”

I know it is sometimes true that truthfully reporting money is the easiest way to keep it, but I am also sure that it is not always true. I know many clients had  opportunities to report transporting more than $10,000 in money but there are who are subjected to “zealous enforcement” and asked trick questions without sufficient opportunity to make, or amend, a report.  Sometimes the philosophy of some Customs officers is to “seize first, ask questions later.”

My clients usually report intimidating behavior while they are being detained, like back-slapping, laughter, high-fiving among officers about their seizure prowess, and sometimes unfounded threats of criminal prosecution.

It is also true, as this news release says, that the easiest way to keep your currency is to report it; but Customs can still theoretically seize your money if you have under $10,000 and they think you are “structuring” to avoid to have to file a report, the money was concealed, or if you report over $10,000 but lack good documentation about the source and use of the funds, or if they believe it has some connection to criminal activity.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case